News & ToursFebruary 11, 2010

This week's syllabus: Feb. 11-17

__THE FAB FIVE

My look at the top five school in the country right now

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1. Stanford (2)

Cardinal steps up in final round at Mauna Lani, shooting two-under to hold off Pac-10 foes Oregon and Washington to claim their third title of the 2009-10 season.

Next event: USC Invitational, North Ranch CC, Westlake, Calif., March 1-2

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2. Oklahoma State (1)

Surprisingly slow start for the Cowboys (11-over 299 in first round) put them too far back to claim title at Mauna Lani, finishing fifth. Chances weren't helped by the fact that Peter Uihlein, whose worst round of the fall was a 75, shot 80-75-79 to finish T-85.

Next event: Puerto Rico Classic, Rio Grande CC, Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, Feb. 21-23

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Huskies should be OK with T-2 finish in Hawaii, but considering they were leading entering the final round, this could be considered one that got away.

Next event: Battle at the Beach, Pelican Hills GC, Newport Beach, Calif., Feb. 14-16

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4. Oregon (NR)

Share of second at Mauni Lani was the Ducks fifth top-five finish in five tournaments this season. Daniel Miernicki and Eugene Wong showing there's no such thing as a sophomore slump with top-10 finishes for second straight tournament.

Next event: USC Invitational, North Ranch CC, Westlake, Calif., March 1-2

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5. California (NR)

Maybe a stretch considering the Golden Bears' fall schedule was a bit lacking. Still, they won their third title (Arizona Invitational) of the 2009-10 campaign (a single-season school record) in impressive fashion. Cal has a chance to prove it's no fluke at the John Burns.

Next event: John Burns Intercollegiate, Leilehua GC, Wahiawa, Hawaii, Feb. 17-19

__WOMEN

__[#image: /photos/55ad726ab01eefe207f69044]|||Thumbnail image for USC 2008-09 logo.gif|||1. USC (3)

That's a pretty good statement the Trojans made in taking the team title yesterday Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge. Jennifer Song ends her winning streak at two, but a T-2 finish is pretty strong. Same for Lizette Salas (T-5) and Belen Mozo (T-12). Amazingly this is the first time USC has won the NGRC.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 22-23

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Not the start coach Melissa Luellen was hoping for, as the Sun Devils finished tied for fourth at Palos Verdes after winning there a year ago. The team's depth is going to be put to the test this spring.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 22-23

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The Bruins played without Stephanie Kono in the Northrop Grumman and finished T-4 after closing with a disappointing 303. Replacing a first-team All-American isn't easy.

Next event: Bruin/Wave Invitational, Robinson Ranch GC, Canyon Country, Calif.

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Crimson Tide gets first victory of the 2009-10 with 11-stroke triumph over Purdue at Lady Puerto Rico Classic. Their 872 score tied for the fifth-best 54-hole total in school history.

Next event: Tiger-Wave Classic, English Turn GC, New Orleans, March 12-13

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Led by medalist Lisa McClosky and Taylore Karle (T-2), the Waves claim runner-up finish at Northrup Grumman Regional Challenge.

Next event: Arizona Wildcat Invitational, Arizona National GC, Tucson, Feb. 22-23

__STAT OF THE WEEK

__3

Number of teams that went improved on a record of .500 or worse to better than .500 with their play at the Jacksonville Invitational. Winner East Tennessee State, runner-up Wake Forest and third-place finisher Clemson all used the event at the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium course to improve on so-so fall finishes.

End of fall        After JU Invite

ETSU            26-36-2/.421     40-36-2/.525

Wake            25-25-2/.500      38-26-2/.696

Clemson        9-19-1/.500       31-21-1/.594

__WHAT TO WATCH FOR

__* I had been an admitted skeptic about the Alabama women's team, thinking their final fall ranking (No. 9 in the Golf World/NGCA coaches' poll) was a bit high for a team that had no wins and only one top-five finish in four starts. To their credit, however, the Crimson Tide played solidly in taking the title at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic. Look at their schedule, though, raises a new concern for me: Alabama doesn't play its next tournament until March 12 at the Tiger/Wave Classic. It's a full month for any momentum to unfortunately subside. Their confidence will likely remain, but you wish there weren't such a long layoff until their second spring start.

  • On the men's side, I have felt the same way about Florida, ranked fourth in the Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll to end the fall despite having no victories. The Gators did finish second at Isleworth, an impressive feat, but I need more convincing particularly after a so-so finish at Arizona to start the spring (Coach Buddy Alexander himself described it as "pretty mediocre.")

This weekend is the chance for Florida to do that convincing as they host the SunTrust Gator Invitational for the 33rd time. Given their track record at home (23 times they've won the team title, including the past six consecutive years), I fully expect them to win. Yet considering there only seem to be a handful of teams in the field good enough to stay with Florida (Duke, LSU and Florida State), the Gators have a chance not just to win but to do so with some authority. A double-digit win could finally make a few people believers that Florida is a legitimate threat to claim the national title.

One other note: Florida freshman Tommy Mou hadn't played all fall and there was talk that he might be redshirted this season. Yet after winning the New Year's Invitational amateur event early in January, Mu played as an individual in Arizona and finished T-11. It will be interesting to see if Alexander puts him in the starting lineup this weekend or has him play as an individual as he did in Arizona.

__TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

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Big Ten Match Play

__Heron Bay GC, Coral Springs, Fla. (Par 72, 7,268 yards)

Feb. 12-13

Host: Northwestern

Defending champion: Indiana beat Michigan in the championship match, 3.5-2.5

Field: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Skinny: The Fighting Illini are the top-seed, with No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Minnesota and No. 5 Indiana get first-round byes.

__SunTrust Gator Invitational

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Mark Bostick GC at University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. (Par 70, 6,701 yards)

Feb. 13-14

Host: Florida

__Defending champion:Florida (16-under 824) by 18 strokes over Mississippi; Florida's Toby Ragland (five-under 205) in playoff over Florida's Billy Horschel and UCF's Simon Ward

Field:__ UAB, UCF, Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Lamar, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, North Florida

Skinny: In addition to Florida winning its home event 23 times in 32 years, 11 Gators have claimed medalist honors in the history of the event.

__Battle at the Beach

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Pelican Hill GC, Newport Coast, Calif.

Feb. 14-16

Host: UCLA and Long Beach State

Defending champion: New Event

Field: Arizona State, Arkansas, Colorado, Colorado State, Long Beach State, Notre Dame, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Francisco, Tennessee, UT Arlington, UC Davis, UCLA, Washington

Skinny: Quality field includes seven teams in the top 25 of the Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll.

__Rice Intercollegiate

__Westwood GC, Houston (Par 72, 7,184 yards)

Feb. 15-16

Host: Rice

Defending champion: Pacific (10-over 874) by four strokes over Rice; San Francisco's Ji Hwan Park (six-under 210) by three strokes over Rice's Christopher Brown

Field: Auburn, Florida Gulf Coast, Hartford, Houston, Houston Baptist, Kansas, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Miami (Ohio), Missouri State, Nebraska, New Orleans, Northern Colorado, Pacific, Rice

Skinny: Pacific looks to become the first team to repeat as champions in the event's 10-year history. Meanwhile, Rice looks to claim its home for the first time as well.

__UTSA/Oak Hills Invitational

__   (For live scoring, click here to link to Golfstat)

Oak Hills CC, San Antonio (Par 72, 6,691 yards)

Feb. 15-16

Host: UT San Antonio

Defending champion: Texas Tech (28-under 824) by 20 strokes over UT Arlington; Texa Tech's Chris Ward (11-under 202) by three strokes over Texas Tech's Nils Floren

Field: Air Force, Baylor, Illinois State, Iowa State, Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas, Oklahoma, San Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, Southeastern Louisiana, Texas Tech, Texas State, Tulsa, UT San Antonio, Wichita State

Skinny: Event celebrates its 15th anniversary.

__John Burns Intercollegiate

__Leilehua GC, Wahiawa, Hawaii

Feb. 17-19

Host: Hawaii

Defending champion: Texas A&M (28-under 836) by three strokes over New Mexico; New Mexico's James Erkenbeck (11-under 205) by one stroke over Arizona's Tarquin Macmanus

Field: Arizona, BYU, BYU-Hawaii, California, Denver, Fresno State, Hawaii, Hawaii-Hilo, Hawaii Pacific, Nevada, New Mexico, SMU, UC Santa Barbara, UNLV, UTEP, Texas A&M

Skinny: Low numbers are a Burns tradition.

__WOMEN

Peg Barnard Collegiate

__Stanford GC, Palo Alto, Calif.

Feb. 13-14

Host: Stanford

Defending champion: Was not played in 2008-09

Field: California, Fresno State, Hawaii, Long Beach State, Oregon, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Stanford, UC Davis, Texas, Washington

Skinny: The 36-hole tournament is named after Barnard, a tireless fundraiser for women's athletics at Stanford prior to Title IX.

__Hurricane Invitational

__Don Shula's Golf Resort, Miami Lakes, Fla. (Par 72, 6,210 yards)

Feb. 14-16

Host: Miami (Fla.)

__Defending champion:__Georgia State (27-over 891) by nine strokes over Tulane; Louisville's Cindy LaCrosse (two-over 218) by two strokes over Georgia State's Iliska Verwey

Field: UCF, Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, East Tennessee State, Eastern Michigan, Georgia State, Illinois State, James Madison, Kentucky, Memphis, Mercer, Miami (Fla.), N.C. State, Oklahoma City, San Diego State, South Florida, Southern Mississippi, Texas State

Skinny: First of two tournaments Miami will host this spring as legendary coach Lela Cannon winds up her career this spring.

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